You Can't Hug a Spider with Nuclear Arms
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I don't clean my house of cobwebs very often. There are two reasons for this: the first being that I am basically lazy. Or perhaps a more politically correct explanation would be that I am easily distracted from those chores that I should do, to pursuits of a more interesting nature, such as reading magazines, watching Northern Exposure reruns or snacking.

The other reason is that I cannot bring myself to kill the spiders that live in the webs. I can render them homeless for a while, but that's about as far as my predatory inclinations will take me.

This penchant of mine for sparing the lives of lower life forms goes way back and has its roots in the Saturday afternoon "B" movies, such as Them, Mothra and Godzilla. Among the kids I grew up with in the '60s, it was a firmly held belief that all insects are susceptible to the "Gamma Ray Factor," what with the nuclear arms race heating up as it was. Whereby, the unfortunate insect that is exposed to the dreaded Gamma Ray will mutate into a gargantuan version of itself, roughly the size of a small apartment building. We were careful not to tick-off (sorry) any insect species that could one day rule the earth.

My mother-in-law was coming to spend the night recently. This will usually get me to put down my copy of Yak World (the magazine for discriminating yak owners), wipe the Twinkie crumbs from my shirt and pick up a dust mop. I begin with the bathroom. This is prime real estate for the Daddy Long-legs variety. It's either the moisture they enjoy or the eclectic selection of reading material to be found on the sink counter. Whatever the reason, there is usually a busy family of three or four in each corner.

I tap the wall with the business end of the dust mop alerting the spiders of impending doom and wait for them to vacate the area. Then I twirl the mop into the corners and clear out the webs. The spiders are now wandering around, dazed, assessing the damage like people after a dramatic storm. Each tells his own particular story, comparing notes with the neighbors.

"Yea, we had just sat down to supper when we saw the mop coming. Eunice grabs the kids and takes off. I stand my ground as long as I can, but you know, it's no time for heroics. I'm down the wall seconds before the mop strikes. It was that close."

"I know what you mean. And we just finished the weave on that new addition. Sheesh, it'll take at least twenty, maybe thirty minutes to rebuild. And no insurance either."

I'm feeling guilty now, so I leave the bathroom and the stunned Daddy Long-legs. I go to look for abandoned, guilt-free webs. The ones that have been around so long that the spiders have moved out leaving behind tiny little For Rent signs.

I don't have far to look. There's a beaut on the laundry-room light fixture. It appears that the spiders have attempted to transform the ordinary fixture into a webby version of a chandelier. There are also drooping threads of a web attaching the wall to an old bottle of fabric softener, the dryer hose to the water faucets, a package of clothespins to a can of spray starch and a container of stain remover to a box of dryer sheets. It looks like the wedding table scene from Great Expectations.

This job calls for more than just a dust mop. I'll have to bring out the big guns: the vacuum cleaner. But first, maybe a little snack -- and a peek at the new Yak World.

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